The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough –Rabindranath Tagore
We feel better when we take time out of our busy lives to spend time in nature.
Although we don’t need science to tell us that contact with nature is good for us, nevertheless, studies have been conducted and research has demonstrated that being in nature does have a beneficial impact on our mental health.
It’s now summer in Barrington Illinois and I want to take the opportunity to write about the importance of nature, mindfulness, and mental health. Studies investigating the impact of nature on our health have typically focused on restorative effects. Spending time in nature not only helps us regain psychological, social, and physical wellbeing, it is especially helpful for stress recovery.
Why nature helps mindfulness
Nature can be used to help bring us to a place of mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as present moment awareness and is associated with a range of physical and mental health benefits. Mindfulness and nature interconnect in a unique way as nature can be both calming and energizing.
Practicing mindfulness allows us to achieve an optimal state of being and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. When our attention is fully on the moment, we are not allowing our past fears our future anxieties dictate what we do in the present. Placing ourselves in the moment is associated with the following benefits:
- Improvement of brain function through the practice of sustained focus and attention
- Improvement in mood
- Reduction of stress and the consequences of stress
- Improved ability to cope with pain
Meditation in nature
Meditating in nature is a unique experience as it offers us pleasurable tools we can use to help hold our attention in the moment. Focusing on certain properties of the environment such as the sound of water rushing in a stream or the wind moving through the trees can help bring the meditation practice to a new level. In addition to the benefits of meditation, the relaxing and pleasurable effects of nature bring added benefit.
Make time in nature a priority
Too much stress may lead to more serious mental health issues such as anxiety and/or depression. Beauty gives pleasure to the mind the relaxing environment allows us to unwind and feel pleasure.
Even if you don’t love nature, studies show that an absence of spending time in nature will have a negative effect. So now that the weather is warm and sunny, it is recommended you take advantage of the wonderful free resource we all have available to improve our physical and mental health.